Hands down, one of my most favorite smells (and tastes!) is homemade bread. Put a little butter and honey on it, and I’m in heaven. Maybe man really can live on bread alone. I’d be willing to give it a try…as long as it was fresh and homemade. I think bakers pass on making their own bread for a number of reasons: fear of yeast (it is going to do its job???), kneading (how long???) and rise times (I’m too busy for that!). But the honest truth is that yeast will do it’s job, kneading is easy and kind of therapeutic and you don’t have to sit there and WATCH the bread rise. Go do whatever you want for an hour. The dough can handle rising just fine without any more of your help. See? No excuses.
But, in case you’re still a little intimidated, I’m sharing one of the easiest bread recipes ever. It’s even easier if you’ve got a stand up (I love you KitchenAid) mixer. Really, though, as long as you’ve got a bowl, ingredients and a spoon you CAN (uh, and should) make this. You’ll love it for sandwiches, with pasta, and french toast. Think two loaves is too many? Cut them in half and freeze OR deliver one loaf to a friend. I like that option better.
So, in honor or World Bread Day today, I bring you..
Easy French Bread
2 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 packages (2 tablespoons) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (shortening works too)
6 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In large mixing bowl combine warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top; allow to soften.
Add salt, oil and 3 cups of flour. Beat well with heavy spoon (or dough hook of mixer). Add enough remaining flour so that dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Leave spoon in batter and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Stir down with spoon; allow dough to rest another 10 minutes and stir down again. Repeat until dough has been stirred down five times. *
Turn dough out onto floured board. Knead just enough to coat dough with flour so it can be handled. Divide dough into 2 parts.
Roll each portion of dough into a rectangle of about 9×12 inches. Roll dough up, starting from the long side, pinch edges of the loaf to seal. Arrange seam side down on a large greased baking sheet. Repeat with second portion of dough.
Cover lightly and allow to rise for 30 minutes. With a very sharp knife, cut three gashes at an angle in the top of each loaf. Brush the entire surface with the egg wash (1 eg beaten slightly with 1 tablespoon of water.)
Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until brown. Cool on racks.
*I always forget how many times I’ve turned the KitchenAid on and stirred the dough down. My solution is to take a spoon out of the drawer every time 10 more minutes have passed and I’ve turned the mixer on. When it’s time for the 5th spoon I know I’m done!